3 ON YOUR SIDE (3TV) - For some people, getting into better physical shape is a running battle.
And joining a gym might be the first thing that comes to mind if you're looking to shed a few pounds this new year.
However, Felicia Thompson of the Phoenix Better Business Bureau says don't be so quick to sign a contract.
“It's really important to do that free trial just to see if you like it,” Thompson said.
Thompson says it's common for some gyms to let you work out for free just to see if you like the facility.
Jimmy Miller is a regional manager with Anytime Fitness here in the Valley and encourages free trials.
“I would definitely feel out the gym, take a tour of the location. Most gyms do offer a trial package of some sort.”
If you are ready to commit, Thompson says to read the contract carefully and don't be pressured into signing on the spot.
“I think, like any industry, there's going to be high pressured sales. It's not just related to gyms but it's an opportunity for folks to really feel excited right away and for someone to take advantage of that,” Thompson said.
When joining a gym, hopefully, it's for the long haul, but just in case, read the fine print when it comes to a gym's cancellation policy.
Miller acknowledges cancellation policies vary from gym to gym.
"If you cancel early within your agreement, there's (sic) things that happen, if you move somewhere and there's not an Anytime Fitness around, if your job transfers you out somewhere. We do offer 50 percent off your remaining dues," said Miller.
And finally, determine if the gym really meets your goals.
"Find out what are the gym hours, how busy is it at certain times, are they going to have access to the equipment," said Miller.
The Better Business Bureau offers the following tips regarding gym memberships:
Determine your fitness goals. Determining your goals in advance will help you select a facility that is most appropriate for you. It’s also a good idea to check with your physician before embarking on a new fitness regimen, especially if you have a medical condition.
Figure out your priorities. What is most important to you? Will a convenient location and extended hours help you stick to your fitness plan? Will a variety of equipment or classes keep you motivated? Do you work out while traveling and prefer a chain with numerous outlets? Determine your top priorities before you start shopping around.
Check bbb.org. BBB has Business Profiles on more than 15,000 health clubs, fitness centers and gyms. Read what previous customers have to say, and see how the businesses respond to complaints. This information may help you narrow down the list of gyms you want to tour in person.
Take a tour. Make sure the gym has the equipment, classes and trainers you need or expect. Pay attention to things that are important to you, whether it’s the cleanliness of the showers or the availability of Wi-Fi. Ask questions and make sure you understand all the rules. Ask about busy times, wait times for equipment, whether classes require pre-registration, availability and cost of trainers, etc.
Ask about free trials. Gyms often give a one-week free pass for potential members; this is a great way to see if the gym is a good fit for you. Try the gym at different times to see how crowded it is and whether there is a wait for certain equipment. Check out classes if they are offered.
Don’t feel coerced. Do not give in to high-pressure sales tactics to join right away. A reputable gym will give you enough time to read the contract thoroughly, tour the facilities, do some research, and make an informed decision.
Calculate the true costs. Gyms often use special introductory offers to encourage new members, but the price could go up more than you budgeted once the initial period is over. Make sure you understand what the regular monthly fees will be and what they include.
Understand the terms. Read the contract carefully before signing. Make sure that all verbal promises made by the salesperson are in writing. What matters is the document you sign, so don’t just take a salesperson’s word for it. What happens if you move or the gym goes out of business? Will your membership renew automatically at the end of the term? Can you get out of the contract altogether and under what circumstances?